Sunday, January 28, 2007

Downtown Fire traps throngs of motorists

Ok, I know I alluded to a conflagration of Portland’s downtown, and suggested I might not wait till Monday to post about it. My site meter's been going berserk ever since, which rarely happens on weekends because most of my readers know I'm strictly a weekday blogger.

Apparently you’ve all been checking back furiously for the details of the story which you’re wondering why you didn’t see on TV news Friday night. Well, here’s exactly why: There was so much traffic blockage that no news vehicle could get to it. I saw one lone person with some kind of major-looking video camera…

(Maybe it did make the news. How would I know? You think I watch the so-called TV news? Spend a half hour or more of my day listening to people jabber a handful of content-free headlines over and over again with in-between commercial time that adds up to more than the “news” time? You gotta be kidding. A thirty second glance at the headlines as you walk by a newspaper box will give you the amount of information equal to what TV news gives you.)

Getting back to the so-called fire…… I’m riding through downtown and after about the twelfth fire vehicle zooms by, I decide to detour my route a bit so that I might find out what the hell is going on. Answer: nothing.

The multi-apparatus response caused blocks and blocks of commuters in all directions to be jammed into irreversible bottlenecks -- except for the cyclists. The cyclists meandered around freely among the stuck cars and were able to get right up close to the allegedly burning building and see that absolutely nothing was happening – instead of being stuck in an idling, polluting, Moving Metal Deathtrap for hours wondering what the heck was going on.

I rode right up to the building on Fifth Avenue that houses the Ross department store, which appears to support several floors of apartments above it. A fireman’s ladder was leaned up to a conspicuously smokeless window, while notably unworried-looking pedestrians milled in and out of, and past, the street level entrance below.
I asked a number of responders what was going on but none knew. As a file of firemen with tanks on their backs barreled by, a bystander called out, “Hey is there a real fire?” “Presumably,” one of them yelled back over his shoulder. “We don’t do this for practice!”
Who knows how long the area remained snarled in traffic. It quickly grew uninteresting and I was able to leave the scene effortlessly and proceed with my errands. A couple of blocks away I asked one more waiting fireman what was going on. “A small fire, ” was all he could tell me.

[more great fire photos will be posted tomorrow…]


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